The Greatest Gift Moms Give Their Children
Mom, you really do make a difference.
People whose mothers showered them with warmth and affection from infancy through childhood grow up to be adults who have the greatest sense of self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as less anxiety, hostility and general distress, HealthDay News reports of research from Duke University.
The study: Led by Joanna Maselko, the team tracked 482 children from the age of eight months to an average age of 34 years. The participants were all part of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project.
The children were first assessed at eight months of age for developmental progress. The mothers were also assessed for their reaction to their child’s test results and to how well they reacted to their child’s exam performance.
In addition, the team assessed the degree of maternal affection and attention displayed to the babies, with each mother given a rating that ranged from “negative” to “extravagant.”
While 10 percent of the mothers gave their children very low levels of affection, 85 percent were considered normal and just 6 percent offered a very high amount of maternal affection.
More than 30 years later, those same 482 children–now adults in their 30s–were assessed for feelings of anxiety, hostility and general distress.
The results: Those who had been given the most affection as babies had the lowest levels of anxiety, hostility and general distress as adults, leading the team to conclude that maternal affection at a very young age can have a critical long-range impact on mental health and emotional coping skills.
The opposite also held true. Those who had the least amount of affection as babies had the highest degree of emotional instability and insecurity as adults.
The takeaway: Maternal affection may enable and promote the healthy development of bonding and emotional attachments, which may help a child to develop social skills that are key to coping with general stress and anxiety.
“It is striking that a brief observation of level of maternal warmth in infancy is associated with distress in adult offspring 30 years later,” the researchers concluded in their report that was published in the online edition of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. “These findings suggest that early nurturing and warmth have long-lasting positive effects on mental health well into adulthood.”
–From the Editors at Netscape
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